by W. Röst, Sep 9, 2022 in WUWT
The Earth’s greenhouse effect is much larger than suggested so far. If surface radiation and the greenhouse effect set surface temperatures, our oceans would be boiling. Fortunately, they don’t. Water Earth has a strong water-vapor-based evaporative surface cooling mechanism that effectively sets and stabilizes surface temperatures at a much lower level than cooling by surface radiation emissions can do. Thanks to water vapor our temperature system is far more stable than admitted by the consensus, and thanks to water, water vapor, and clouds surface temperatures are favorable for present life.
Early Earth consisted of hot molten lava covered by an extreme greenhouse atmosphere: hardly any surface radiation could reach space, if any. Nevertheless, its surface cooled. Upward convection brought sensible and latent heat from hot surfaces to elevations on the very edge of the atmosphere from where energy effectively could be radiated into space. Despite the near maximal greenhouse effect the surface of Early Earth cooled down and at a certain moment the first oceans developed. Those boiling oceans still resulted in a huge upward convective transport of energy, further cooling the surface. Until now, convective upward transport of energy plays the main role in surface cooling. Convection sets and regulates surface temperatures at actual level. Without evaporative-convective-cloud-cooling, our actual greenhouse atmosphere would theoretically result in a surface temperature of 202.3°C. On the real Earth the greenhouse effect warms the surface, but greenhouse warming does not set and control final surface temperatures. Earth’s H2O-based cooling system does.
Theoretical greenhouse effect
The Earth’s greenhouse effect is huge, much higher than normally assumed. If cooled by ‘surface radiation only’ the surface of a theoretical planet would have had a surface temperature of 202.3°C. But the Earth’s surface temperatures are not set by the strength of Earth’s greenhouse effect. Additional H2O-based cooling systems keep the surface at a much lower temperature, balancing rising surface radiation uptake. At present, that balance is reached at a yearly average of 15 degrees Celsius.
Thanks to H2O-related surface cooling the Earth’s surface temperatures are bound to a narrow range, at a temperature level well suited for life on Earth. Due to its stability, life developed over many hundreds of millions of years.
Temperature regulates the cooling system; the cooling system regulates temperature.